Under Construction - Contemporary Image Production

Thomas Albdorf
Fine Arts and Media Art, Photography
2019S, Vorlesungen (VO), 2.0 semester hours, course number S02668


Download PDF of first lecture:  https://we.tl/t-29QPN61Aie

Download PDF of second lecture: https://we.tl/t-Lt0IxuFxEn

Download the PDF outlining the workshop: https://we.tl/t-CJGXqx48wc


How does software-generated imagery changes our perception of our environment, and ultimately our world itself? How can we, the photographers / image makers, create work that reacts to an environment that is more and more shaped by images that are automatically created by neural networks without the influence of human beings?

Albeit the advent of the digital camera and post production have changed photography in the last decades, the majority of our conventional cameras are still relatively closely related to how photographic equipment worked for the last roughly 180 years: an optical apparatus using a lens projects an image towards a surface that records named scenario, the outcome is determined by the lens’ aperture and exposure time as well as the surface‘s specific qualities, be it analogue or digital (abbreviation).
In recent years, software has more and more started to determine how the outcome of the images we see (and believe to “make”) appears; photorealistic pictorial 3D-renderings sneaked into images and movies, either accompanying or replacing lens-based images; algorithms and neural networks create images “from memory” that resemble lens-based photographs, but are entirely based on the networks knowledge and experience, which ever-grows at a faster pace. (R.I.P. “decisive moment”, albeit I never liked you anyway).

The images that we consume more and more shape the world surrounding us, as the pictures we see determine our reading and understanding of what is reality. My instagram-feed is not something apart from my existence, it is something informing my existence. My core question is: if images slowly lose their indexical referent, if the representational mode of how photography used to operate since it’s birth gets abandoned and we are faced with pictures that are only loosely, if even tied to something physical, but rather built via ideologically informed software that only allows the creation of tableaus out of and related to pre-existing imagery, will we still be able to see, to encounter?

Disclaimer: the goal of the workshop is not (necessarily) to examine and reproduce „algorithmic“ automated image production created by neural networks, but to find ways to react to these developments with the photographic tools that largely determine our practice, be it camera-based photography, photorealistic 3D-rendering etc. How do we produce images that discuss their methods of production, that reveal their constructed nature, and that touch upon the approaching loss of indexicality?

Examination Modalities

Creation of an image or a series of images respectively photography-related works based on the workshop's theme.


• 2 lectures (approx. 90 minutes each) talking about contemporary image production (digital post production, pictorial 3D-rendering, software-generated images etc.)

• three blocked sessions (approx. 6 hours each)
1. Create a set / stage that is based on an existing image respectively that recreates a „real“ / outside scenario in the studio. This can be literally based on an existing photograph, using this very printed image as stage, or it could only reference a given scenario. Examples:
• using an actual image (printed out) as a stage
• using a set that is partially based on printouts, like fake marble surfaces, or a print in the background („window“)
• recreating a set that looks like a real given scenario that exists outside the studio
• merging / collaging existing images in Photoshop, Cinema 4D, etc. / or pre-photographic
• etc. etc. … endless possibilities!

2. Take the created image and experiment with the „product“ that it displays; remove it via Photoshop‘s Content Aware Fill, glitch it via re-scanning the printed image, re-photograph it using materials that cover or distort it (foil, mirrors etc.), re-photograph it using your phone and applying existing filters in-app etc.

Ultimate goal: to create an image (respectively a series of images) that appear „credible“, linked to existing image clichés on first glance, however reveal their constructed nature, their roots in existing images, on a closer look.

Basic guidelines for the workshop

Benefit for the students:
• First and most important goal: the participating students shall be enabled to make a small body of work that can a) form part of an existing series that they are working on or b) be close to their existing approach.
• Workshop‘s guidelines should be interpreted in a way that allows participating students to incorporate their personal practice / aesthetic and general approach.
• As long as the basic idea - the final images should, in whatever manner, be based on or inspired by existing images - is upheld, pretty much anything goes.


03 May 2019, 10:00–12:00 Photo Studio, Photography Department
06 May 2019, 10:00–12:00 Photo Studio, Photography Department
22 May 2019, 09:00–12:00 Photo Studio, Photography Department
28 May 2019, 09:30–13:00 Photo Studio, Photography Department
04 June 2019, 09:30–13:00 Photo Studio, Photography Department
12 June 2019, 09:30–13:00 Photo Studio, Photography Department
26 June 2019, 09:00–13:00 Photo Studio, Photography Department

Course Enrolment

via email: thomas@albdorf.com

co-registration: possible (2.0 ECTS)

TransArts - Transdisciplinary Arts (Bachelor): Artistic and art technology foundations (2.0 ECTS)

Design: Specialisation in Graphic Design (1. Section): Photography, Film, Video (2.0 ECTS)

Design: Specialisation in Graphic Design (2. Section): Photography, Film, Video (2.0 ECTS)

Fine Arts: Specialisation in Photography (2. Section): Fotografische Technologien (2.0 ECTS)

Fine Arts: Specialisation in Painting (2. Section): Fotografische Technologien (2.0 ECTS)

Individual courses: possible (2.0 ECTS)